Summer birds are returning

Our summer visitor migrant birds begin to reappear on the Sunshine Coast in mid-March. Keynote species among these early arrivals are the swallows (violet-green and tree), yellow-rumped warbler and rufous hummingbird. Usually a few pioneer birds arrive ahead of the curve, followed by a mass arrival, often on the heels of a warm weather front from the south.

This year the first swallows were reported by Marcia Mason on March 1 when she observed five violet-green swallows over the Kleindale marsh in Pender Harbour. Aldo Cogrossi also reported violet-greens over the Ruby Lake lagoon. The first tree swallow was observed by Arnold Skei over the Sargeant Bay wetland on the 16th. The first yellow-rumped warblers were seen on the 15th and 16th and the wave of these birds is expected in the next few days, especially in light of the fine weather expected.

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The first rufous hummingbirds were reported on the 13th by Aldo at Ruby Lake and Barry Janyk in Gibsons. This would be a good time to put out your hummingbird feeders, for those people who do not cater to the Anna’s hummingbirds, which stay with us all year. 

For those unfamiliar with our two hummingbird species, Anna’s have green backs and are slightly larger, and the males have a pink gorget. Rufous hummers have a golden-orange gorget and the males have a rufous back. Beware of tricks played by the light on the iridescent colours of hummingbirds! 

Other than those referred to above, the advent of spring can be seen in many other species. The first turkey vulture was reported on March 6, trumpeter swans are migrating daily northwards along our coast, band-tailed pigeons are reappearing, woodpeckers are drumming on snags and chimneys, dusky grouse are booming in the mountains, and robins are now present in the tens of thousands. Passerine birds are singing in full voice including Pacific wren, Hutton’s vireo, house and purple finches, and red-winged blackbirds in the wetlands. 

All of the above merely precedes the main show when millions of birds of 50+ species arrive back in our area from points south. 

The first butterfly of the year, a green comma, was reported by Eric Habisch in Gibsons on the March 16. To ask a question or report a sighting, contact or 604-885-5539. 

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